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Complaint about Sackets Harbor Fire Company filed with state Division of Human Rights

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SACKETS HARBOR — A Sackets Harbor Fire Company member removed in January has taken her complaint about the department to the state Division of Human Rights.

Helene G. Stewart-Rainville, a former emergency medical technician and interior firefighter, filed her complaint with the state Wednesday.

Ms. Stewart-Rainville and her attorney, Barry M. Schreibman, Cazenovia, have alleged that the volunteer company threatened and discriminated against her and that by listing the cause of her termination as “not working well with others,” it went against its own policies.

“It’s tough enough to do a job, compensated or not compensated,” Mr. Schreibman said. “You’re not allowed to continue that discrimination.”

The company had scheduled several hearings to discuss the dismissal that Ms. Stewart-Rainville did not attend, as Mr. Schreibman said they were not hearings where witnesses could be cross-examined.

A statement from Mr. Schreibman noted that Randolph V. Lynd, who Ms. Stewart-Rainville has claimed made threats and attempted violence against her, was recently promoted to the company’s chief.

“That perfectly demonstrates the problem here, and I think it’s exhibit A as far as she’s claiming,” Mr. Schreibman said.

No criminal charges have been filed against Mr. Lynd over any of the incidents alleged by Ms. Stewart-Rainville.

Fire company leaders in the past have deferred comment to their lawyer, Jonathan B. Fellows of Bond, Schoeneck & King, Syracuse, who also has declined to comment on the matter.

Mr. Schreibman said the decision to go through the state Division of Human Rights instead of filing a civil case was made because the complaint would be reviewed more quickly. He said the division has the ability to reinstate an employee or award damages for pain or suffering caused by termination.

Mr. Schreibman said that taking into account time for lawyers on both sides to file countering arguments and rebuttals, it could be a few months before a decision is made by the division about taking the dispute to court.

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